The very first time that I opened a package from my Hoodoo product supplier, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found. A world of different possibilities opened up in front of my eyes as I examined the herb infused oils and the various mineral curios and incenses in front of me. It was then that I realized how much my magical supply cabinet was missing and, how much I could still learn. I felt blessed because I was inspired and resolved to dedicate time to learn the Hoodoo craft.
This is not a shameless plug to promote Ms. Cat´s products, as I don´t even mention her website for three reasons. One, I am still her student and I am in no way or form trying to gain ´brownie points´ towards my graduation—that is only earned through earnest work and turning in assignments. The second reason is because I am not seeking self-promotion by association with her or her products and the third reason is because when a reader of this blog wants more information about a subject or reference they are always welcome to send me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write to me I will furnish the data gladly as we really try to make this blog about information and never about pushing products or services that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to share spiritual experiences and discoveries along our various journeys.
As I uncapped one of the oils called “Psychic Vision” my first reaction was one of peace and elation, then then extreme curiosity took over me. I wanted to know more about what went into making the magic I had uncapped. The genie was out of the bottle and I wanted to get to know it.
I instantly started to wonder what it would be like to actually visit her shop and to be able to peruse through the shelves at leisure just like I do when I visit the many botánicas we have here in Puerto Rico.
Certainly, we have not shortage of suppliers of magical or ritual wares, mostly catering to the Santería Spiritist and Palo communities, not to mention other systems such as 21 Divisions which lately has been on a growth spurt in Puerto Rico.
However, when I started to compare in my mind the ¨oils¨ and ´fragrances´ found at local shops, they paled by comparison to the treasures I had just received via US post. So, I went to my well organized magical supply closet and started to pull open drawer after drawer filled with tiny square bottles of oils and fragrances…suddenly my eyes were opened. These were but pale reflections of dreams sold under the names of ¨7 Powers¨, ¨Madama, ¨Lluvia de Oro¨ or ¨El Indio¨ labels, but none of them really had any ´life´ to them, not that I really believe they had from the moment I got them at the various shops I visit. The inferred powers supposedly contained on those bottles were inexistent. They were produced in mass market conditions, labeled and shipped from New York, California and Miami to cater to people who may, or not, know any better but still buy these stuff because they are part of ´spiritual recipes´ for this or that trabajo (working) and for this or that spiritual bath. Bologne!
This was a turning point for me. It was then when I decided that I would learn to make my own blends of oils and fragrances and prepare for myself materials that would indeed be filled with good ingredients that could lend energy and power to help further my workings. No more red or yellow dye with alcohol and generic fragrances for me!
When it comes to magic, no two oil makers produce the same blends. Even if they follow the very exact recipe, there is always a je ne sais quoi, a certain something that every Root Doctor—as human being reflecting his or her own uniqueness— lends to the final product created. Uniqueness in itself is magic!
Next time you are headed to a botánica to buy ritual wares, I invite you to carefully analyze the products you see around you. You will indeed find some that do contain the herbs and ingredients advertised in them, however, most of them will be nothing more than junk. Spend your money as you will, but at least before you run to fill up a list given to you by your local Santero or Spiritists, ask questions about the origin of the products you are buying and about why they favor a perfume over another. When you finally decide on your purchase, do hold the intended bottle in your hands and see what sort of vibe you sense coming from it. If you can, do this with as many products as you can pick and make yourself a mental note about the ´feelings´ you get as you pick them.
I have seen so many people stand by me at botánicas and buy at once over a hundred dollars’ worth of worthless junk. I have stood there and wanted to say something, but politeness and my respect for their privacy kept me from speaking my mind. Also, I do understand botánicas are trying to make a living, but in doing so, I am sure they can research and obtain better products and provide consumers a better selection of materials to solve their problems. After all, most folks that visit a botánica go there because they have a problem or issue they want to resolve and what better way to cultivate loyal customers than by empowering them with the right tools.
The right tools may not come cheap, but as I look into what remains of my old purchases from botánicas I see the enormous waste of money and the lack of pride in craftsmanship that went into their production. Then I compare it with the Hoodoo stuff I have and I can see and sense a marked difference. Of course, the proof is in the pudding so I did test the products. Even if they are marked as curious they did work for my purposes.
There was one particular nasty person that was making my life impossible and I decided that it was not really worth hammering this creature with the Npungos, that would be and overkill. Santeria was not the route I wanted to take either to take care of this pest. I rather work with my orishas for issues of self-development and progress. I am very particular about them; even if I have seen other Santeros go to them at the drop of a hat for just about anything. No, some things are better solved within the confines of a good old Hoodoo bottle trick.
I went for Four Thieves Vinegar, an old South favorite, as the basis for my work. I won’t tell you all that went into the bottle, as those things are rather personal choices done on a case by case basis. However I will tell you, I did the working on a Friday night, by Monday morning I had glorious news…the source of my headaches was gone from my life. I grinned gleefully as I got the news first thing that day. I silently sent Ms. Cat a big thank you note in form of a blessing and prayer and went on about my business. Could I have done this using my other arsenal of tools? Of course! The Orisha and my Npungos have never let me down. But why drive a nail with a steamroller when I can use just the right hammer.
Think of it. The right tools for the right job will save you time, energy and certainly money. Next time you go to shop for magical supplies…choose wisely, ask questions and if you can’t find what you are looking for, research and try to learn to make what you need. Often times the solution too many problems lay in the simplest of formulas and ingredients when prepared with craftsmanship, knowledge and a sense of pride in your work. But most of all the solution to many problems starts with asking the right questions and not being afraid to go against the existing commercial system.
There is more to come on this Hoodoo adventure. Saddle up, it will be a fun ride.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá